Is Facebook making us lonely?

I have been ignoring this blog of mine. No more.

From now on, I promise myself to update this blog with every thing that I create. And by everything, I mean lecture notes (yes, even incoherent ones), assignments (after I have submitted them) and random thoughts I might have during the day. I am committing fully to this process of publishing 100 % of my work, because selecting what of my work I should be publishing is a complete pain in the ass and I end up publishing nothing.

I would rather have a lot of crappy material published than none at all. So here goes.

The following is a reading response from my “Social and Organizational Issues of Information” class at the School of Information, UC Berkeley. Feel free to criticize, and educate.

Readings:

Is Facebook Making Us Lonely? (2012) – http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/05/is-facebook-making-us-lonely/308930/

Boston Review, The Loneliness Scare, Claude Fischer (2012) – http://www.bostonreview.net/Fischer-loneliness-modern-culture

Prompt

Consider the Atlantic piece ‘is Facebook making us lonely’ and Claude Fischer’s rebuttal ‘the loneliness scare.’ Drawing from the evidence and arguments of these articles, take and defend a position on whether ‘Facebook is making us lonely?’ In particular, is there a way that you could change the statement, ‘Facebook is making us lonely’ to make it closer to true?

Reading response

Marche argues that new technologies like Facebook make an online, superficial connection more tempting for us at exactly the moment when we feel the need for a human connection. For those of us who want to escape real, messy human interaction, these technologies have made it easier to do so by moving a significant portion of our lives online. For those people, online communities have become the source of social interaction, with online connections substituting for deeper bonds. He also says – “LONELINESS IS CERTAINLY not something that Facebook or Twitter or any of the lesser forms of social media is doing to us. We are doing it to ourselves” which effectively disproves the article’s own headline.

Fischer uses the fact that we ourselves are choosing to be more isolated to argue that we are not lonely, but just more isolated. He argues that these choices are being made because that is how some percentage of humans have always been. He argues that the percentage of Americans who are lonely has always remained the same. But he does not address the point that Marche makes about the ease with which lonely people can choose to be lonelier.

Thus, both of them agree that there are a large number of people who are lonely, but do not address each other’s main arguments directly. Both articles were not making mutually exclusive arguments, but instead were making complementary points. A more apt headline for Marche might have been “Facebook is making it easier for lonely people to be lonely”